Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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5 Keen Observations

5 Keen Observations (If I do say so, myself)

Driving around lately, I’ve had a few thoughts that I can’t shake. They aren’t Earth shattering or super original, but I think they’re worth sharing. Here goes:

1. I’m a little shocked by Band Aid. I’m one of those Christmas-radio-before-Thanksgiving-listeners. I love it! I’ve said it before, the Charlie Brown Christmas album is the number one thing played in our house. That being said, I’ve heard Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid ten million times this month. And… I’m shocked by all of the sweeping/typical/cliche/and possibly offensive Africa references in that song. I understand the point, but still. I think it rains in some parts of Africa and there is for sure at least one famous river. Aaaaand not everyone loves snow.

I still love it. But jeeez!!

2. I’m a LOT shocked by Britney Spears’ new song, Perfume. I shudder to think that any teenage girl could be relating to this song. The point of perfume is NOT to “mark your territory” so that the (ex girlfriend!!!) girl he’s cheating on you with will know you exist. How demeaning and awful!!! Girls, let’s boycott this song for the greater good of humanity.

“And while I wait I put on my perfume, yeah I want it all over you

I gotta mark my territory.

I’ll never tell, tell on myself but I hope she smells my perfume.”

All I think of is dogs peeing, sadness, and the prayer that no girl actually does this, ever.

If you’re with a guy and you feel the need to mark him with your scent, don’t you think there’s a problem there? I’m still feeling the shock of having heard this song for the first time yesterday. Goodness.

(no way am I posting this song on here.)

3. Mumford and Sons lyrics, though pretty good, are very Yoda-ish. 

“My weakness I feel I must finally show.” Etc.

4. Organic food should not be labeled organic. Organic should be the standard and conventional and the only foods that should be specially labeled are the ones with chemicals or genetic alterations (GMOs). Yup. That’s about it for that one.

5. Radio music is nothin’ compared to the other stuff out there. The majority of people listen to about 1% of the music in this world (at least in the USA, I think.) I only had this realization because of a few KEY people in my life who shared other music with me. I was your typical top 40’s hits listener a few years ago and now I can say that I couldn’t name five songs on that top 40 list (except for Perfume, I guess.) Do me a Thanksgiving favor, completely make my day, and look up some of these bands/artists that you might not ever hear otherwise. I’ll include a list and some links to their “best” songs in my opinion!

Justin Townes Earle MAMA’S EYES

Middle Brother WILDERNESS

Shovels & Rope LAY LOW

Jeffrey Foucault CROSS OF FLOWERS

Brown Bird DOWN TO THE RIVER

*Wildewood ROPE

*Brush Strokes BLUEBIRD

*The Handsome Family SO MUCH WINE

If you were to study these lyrics, let them change your life, I’m positive that they would touch your soul and you will be changed in some way. That’s something Maroon 5 just can’t do for me anymore.

Have you had any thoughts you’ve been wanting to share lately?! Anything that shocked you or struck you as odd in some way? Please share… and share if you listen to any of these artists. :)

Love, Lou

*local Albuquerque bands… people I actually KNOW! How cool is that?

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Music = Life, Inspiration & Love

Day 29, Wednesday: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.

It’s seriously very difficult to choose only five.

BUT if I HAD to choose only five…. these are the five I would choose.

1) Wilderness by Middle Brother

I could listen to this song every single day and not tire of it. My maiden name is Wilder, so that’s cool and sort of related. This songs speaks to me for many reasons. The first is that my twin sister Meredith and I have driven around, with this song on repeat, many times. It makes me think of her and the nights we spend, usually silent, simply enjoying a nice song.

I love it when the song says:

“Just because it’s honest, well that doesn’t make it true.”

It could mean any number of things. But it really makes me re-evaluate and think about the “Truths” with a capitol “T” I say in this life. It makes me think of what honesty is.

2) Boxcar by Shovels and Rope

“Don’t let the sorrow of it get you down, change your last name and try your luck around
And if they ever come to ask about me, tell em that you knew me and you kinda liked me
I ain’t afraid to go it on my own, you can make a run and make it all alone.
You’ll be alright.”

I think it’s such a romantic song and it has actually brought a tear to my eye. The woman in this song is being SO brave. Their plan didn’t work- they got caught robbing banks, acting like Bonnie and Clyde, and she tells her love… go, run for it! Let me take the fall!!!

Would you do that?

This song has made me take a good honest look at my actions and how loyal I am to Greg. If we got into trouble, how brave could I be?

3) City Limit Sign by Meredith Wilder

“It was a humbling experience when I swallowed all my pride.”

I think we’ve all had a moment like that. I want to follow my dreams- step beyond the city limit sign. I LOVE this song, and not only because my sister Meredith wrote it and sings it :) It brightens up my morning. I listen to it at least a few times a week, if not every single day.

…There are so many more important things I should be worrying about.

4) Yuma by Justin Townes Earle

HE IS MY FAVORITE!!! JTE is incredible. He’s an amazing songwriter, great singer, and an overall cool guy. I love his interviews. There is something about his attitude that makes me like him even more. You should listen to every single one of his songs. But you could start with this one.

Did you cry? It’s a crazy sad song. But it’s SOOOOO good. I probably listen to this song every day, too.

I <3 you, Justin Townes Earle.

5) International Players Anthem by UGK featuring Outkast

I know, this is kind of a wildcard. Are you surprised?

Greg showed me this song the first year we dated and ever since it has been OUR SONG!!

No joke.

“I choose you babe.”

“I hate to see ya’ll frown, but I’d rather see her smiling.”

It’s hilarious. I love it. I know every single lyric.

You should, too.

(I put the censored version here, just in case a youngin’ visits the old blog…)

CAN I DO ONE MORE??? Please! Just one more? 

I have to.

The BEST <3 love <3 song in the world.

Here it is. I cannot keep this to myself.

It’s one of the only songs I can play on the guitar.

“So I will take these old shoes to get to you.”

How sweet is that? And pretty badass, if I do say so myself.

Again, this song makes me wonder what I would do for love. How hard would I try…. to see Greg? Would I go through all of that, and then still walk to get to him?

I think I would ;)

 

I hope you enjoyed these songs!

Love,

Lou


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My Hippie Experience

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On The Road!!!

Why do I look so happy?

It’s because {about a week ago} I was on the way to my very first Tie-Dye Festival aka Road to Rich’s (Rich is the guy’s name who has a festival on his property in the mountains every year! How cool is that?) aka Weekend In Ramah, New Mexico!

The car was packed. I mean, like sardines. Poor guys had to sit in the back and could hardly even hear each other.

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poor alex

All of New Mexico’s finest musicians travel a few hours out of town and camp out (in tents, real rugged-like) and 300 or so people come to listen, make their white clothing tie-dyed and do all sorts of other recreational activities. ;) ;)

We set up camp and soon realized that we were the only ones who’d forgotten to bring something: Chairs.

But at least we had our quilt.

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Wildewood, practicing.

The first night, while the awesome Saltine Ramblers were playing, glow lights were tossed around. It was a real party, up in the cool mountain air, and I danced for hours. This is the only occasion I’d EVER wear something around my head in this way. But it was glowing. And I was at a tie-dye festival. I mean, come on.

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I wasn’t really that crazy, it was just the picture! haha

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showin off our bling

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greg was hilarious. that necklace kept growing

The next day Wildewood and SO MANY other bands played. The stage was in front of Rich’s house.

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Meredith, Greg, Alex

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wildewood rocked it

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what it looked like!

The best part about going to something where other bands play is the fact that I can force ask Greg to dance with me.

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I LOVE IT!!

And sit back to watch the show.

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we hijacked some chairs

I didn’t bring anything to tie-dye, but that’s okay. I will always remember our first Ramah experience and all of the awesome people who were there.

Oh, and it was Rich’s 60th birthday. That’s why the festival even exists… for his birthday party. I have been going about MY birthday all wrong for years, I realized. ha

My favorite part about it all was spending some time “away from it all” with my best friends, Meredith, Greg and Alex. We even shared a tent. Talk about getting comfortable with people. So many laughs were shared. Lots of beer was consumed. Wildewood got a bottle of Whiskey for playing. We ate food constantly and there was always music, whether it was on stage, or people sitting around in circles jamming.

I can’t wait for next year!!!

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Wildewood and Lou

Love,

Lou


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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

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Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

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“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

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Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

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Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou


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How Legends Are Made

Lemon Moon by Wildewood

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Alex, Meredith and Greg

GO and LISTEN to this song. Study it. Think on it. Imagine if this folk tale were to be true. (And realize, that it could be…)

The Lemon Moon has become a popular topic in our group of singer/songwriter friends. There are at least five Lemon Moon songs. They all tell different tales of the legend, the stories of who was left behind and the reason the Lemon Moon exists at all. I will be posting the short story (you guessed it, inspired by this legend that Meredith Wilder from Wildewood came up with), chapter by chapter, in the coming weeks!

So really, go listen to this song. Your life will only be better for it!

:)

 

 

Lemon Moon Lyrics

All the people come out and are wandering around

thinking, “Oh, where is my love?”

Everyone who remains is alone

The Lemon Moon has come back to take every better half

where they go, nobody knows

But the sky sees each on his own

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

His eyes were the deepest blue and he used to sing for you, how easily you let him in

Always thinking that he would escape

Now his garden’s turned to disrepair, no more flowers anywhere

but the birds continue their rounds

In the uninspired parade

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

Had I known, would I have looked lower, lower to find somebody not so fine

Fine like the breeze, easily the best being I ever laid my eyes upon


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Three Days of Muses

I had the best three days EVER!!!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday were amazing in every way. I wish I could experience them over and over, but I’ll settle for writing about it and holding the memories in my heart forever! <3

Basically, I had a chance to see live music. Not just any live music, either. But three musical groups/individuals who inspire my writing. I mean… literally, I have written characters and entire short stories based on their songs. These three above all others. It didn’t even really dawn on me all the way until the very last night. I was brought to tears. It seemed very meant to be and I felt lucky… so lucky!!

Here’s how it went down:

THURDSDAY: WILDEWOOD

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Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

Here is where you can check out some of their music. My short story, Proud Mothers, has a strong relationship with their original song Goodbye Morgan. Lemon Moon is another song for which I’ve written a short story…but that one is a work in progress :) In one of my (currently :) ) unpublished manuscripts, a character named Mason Andrews has characteristics and plot surrounding him- all based on another original by Wildewood, a song called Keep My Distance. When I listen to their music at each and every show I make it to (which is most!) I never fail to get inspired to write something, whether directly related or not. They’re just that good!!!

FRIDAY: DEER TICK

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Deer Tick

This picture was taken on my really old school flip phone, but hey! It’s a picture of them! You should check them out here. The lead singer of Deer Tick is also in a band called Middle Brother (favorite songs? Wilderness & Blood and Guts!!), and many of their songs inspire my writing, too. It’s also the Deer Tick song, These Old Shoes, that just so happened to be the first (and maybe last?) song I really learned to play and sing on the guitar. It was fun! To me, that’s the greatest love song of our time.

Bonus: For one song, they called a guest singer onto the stage. Guess who it was? Vanessa Carlton!!! Yeah!! I know!! It was weird. I can only picture her sitting at a huge piano, can’t you? But there she was, at a small-ish bar in Albuquerque, singing along with Deer Tick. She sounded awesome!

I would walk 1,000 miiles....

I would walk 1,000 miles….

and… drum roll please….

SATURDAY: MARK ERELLI

mark erelli, music

OMG! I was shaking!

The name may not ring a bell, but I promise you, if you listen to his music you will not be disappointed. Especially the album he recorded with Jeffrey Foucault (another person you should listen to every day!), Seven Curses. THAT album is the REASON I began to write short stories.

That’s a pretty big deal!!! At least to me it is! So you can imagine what it was like to hear Mark Erelli sing in person. The show was at a house … about fifteen people were there. A new project called “The Standing O” had him come into town and they first interviewed him, then he sang! It was just amazing. It’s the songs The First Mrs. Jones, Wyoming Wind, and Ellis Unit One that made me write my first two short stories ever, I Looked Over Jordan and Wilde Wood Saloon!! I had him sign my short stories!! How cool is that?

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“Keep on writing.” Oh Mark, I will!!

The paper stapled to the top is an e-mail I printed out from over a year ago. I wrote to him and he wrote back! I never thought I would get to meet him.

And there you have it. In three days I had beer sloshed onto my feet, sweaty people mosh pitting beside me, fancy chocolate served on a table in a living room, hard cider, sparkling lemonde, and lots of awesome music (I’ll let you figure out which things go with which shows….) ;) .

Thanks Wildewood, Deer Tick and Mark Erelli!!!!!!!

And as ALWAYS, thank YOU for stopping by Hey Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Honky Tonk Dancin’

Last night I went dancing in a real country bar. Greg (hubby), Meredith (twin) and I went to see our friend Alex play with an old time country band, Honky Tonk Deluxe, on the other side of the mountain. We even took a road trip to get there!!

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Mer and Greg (uh-oh, our driver looks asleep) 

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after eating all our traveling snacks

 

By road trip, I mean we drove an hour to the East side. Why is it that any drive lasting longer than thirty minutes seems to require snack food? I wanted to buy a huge back of dried mangos, some nuts, and of course, bring plenty of water. We didn’t actually need anything, though! We wound up stealing some Nut Thins from my in-laws on the way out of town. Yum.

This is what the bar looked like! The Mineshaft:

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the two lous

The best part of the entire evening was by far the DANCING!!! I love to dance. It used to be hard to get Greg to dance with me, but lately he’s been pretty up for it. That makes me so happy and excited. The interesting thing about this particular bar was that it was filled with older folk who knew how to dance. Twirling, two stepping, line dancing… the whole bit. Every man had a handlebar mustache and boots… every woman had on a studded belt and fancy hair. It was that kind of bar. Even I was hesitant to get on the dance floor, and once we did, I felt totally in the way of the pros.

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do we look scared?

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We scooted our way over to the corner of the dance floor. There’s Alex of Wildewood, playing away!!

best picture of the night...

best picture of the night…

Here’s Meredith and me, enjoying the music, food and entertainment (those handlebar mustaches, to be exact.)

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twins!

Overall, it was a great night. We laughed and had so much fun. Every once in a while it’s nice to get to the other side of the mountain. You never know what you’ll see!!

Oh, and did I mention how great my husband is? Not only does he dance with me… he doesn’t leave anyone out! <3

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my two favorite people!!


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Too Many Thoughts

Living A Novel

By Melinda Williams

I’d rather life resemble

a Steinbeck novel

I’d rather starve

or lose a house

or drive Route 66

or have an evil mother

or kill for the greater good

Than risk living the life

of a chick-lit novel

Where I’d never feel anything real

Just what others did to me

Above is my latest poem. I’ve been writing them lately. I jot down poems here and there, or little thoughts of inspiration.  A friend of mine got me this little book and it has been life changing. See? Here it is, and look how messy my handwriting is!

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My Little Notebook! I take it EVERYWHERE

I highly recommend doing something like this. It’s for life’s little thoughts. Or big thoughts… either one, really. Why not have a place where you can jot down a note or two, perhaps an inspiring quote, and maybe even journal in when it’s needed? These little books are so cheap and fit in a pocket, even!

Anyway. This blog is not an ad for tiny notebooks. It’s a blog I’m writing, pondering WHY I’ve become someone who would stay awake and write a blog past midnight. (while sitting in the hallway in front of the heater… because I am frozen. Where’s that whiskey…?)

WHY have I become a person who would stay up that late anyway? I used to be a “get 8 hours of sleep” kind of a gal. Now… lately… I’ve been functioning on far less. Mostly, this is because of fun nights spent with friends when we drink way too much wine and then all have to work the next day. But partly, and more and more frequently, it’s because I cannot sleep and my thoughts are carrying me away with them. Yes. Carrying me away. My thoughts are like little ants in a cartoon of a picnic, and I’m the sandwich, slowly getting further away from the person who prepared it…

That’s a horrible analogy! But I think it kind of works!

I’ve been trying to make quotes like these my mantras:

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amazing, huh?

OR

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I laugh out loud to myself MANY times a day. It’s awesome

Life IS too short not to try to live by these. What does the first quote mean? Well, if you haven’t yet made a few mistakes in life, this isn’t for you. AKA, everyone can probably relate to this. I love the idea that there is this constant gray area, LIFE, that lies between right and wrong. Who’s to say what is right and what is wrong, anyway? There’s always two sides to every story. There are always hearts involved… always personal feelings and actions. It’s just like Justin Townes Earle (one of my favorite singers) says in one of his songs…”Who am I to say?” Therefore, I hope we can all agree to meet up with each other in life. I hope that you and someone, or many people (maybe someone you love, maybe someone you cannot stand) can agree to meet out in that “field” and live life, regardless of blame or “right and wrong.”

The second quote is pretty obvious. And I really, truly hope that you all find a moment to laugh by yourself at least once a day. Think of a funny moment you’ve experienced lately. Read the comics! Make a funny face and then shake with laughter knowing that you are the only one who knows you just did that… (or if you have, say, a twin, make funny faces to each other when no one else is aware… that is pure joy!)

On bad days, or moments when I’m not feeling so great, it’s quotes like these that plague me:

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Ugh

OR

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

I’ve really been trying to live in the moment. Not in such a “you only live once” kind of a way… but in a “I need to quiet my freaking brain for at least a second, please” kind of a way.

Do you go over the exact same thought again and again?

Are you riddled with the if’s of your last choice?

Do you over worry about someone else’s reaction to something you’ve done, knowing full well that you are being silly?

I think we all do. I sure hope I’m not alone in this! This is WHY I’ve been trying not to let my memory monsters get the better of me. Memories can be beautiful and peaceful and filled with the best moments of life… I’m not saying that remembering is a bad thing. But hanging on to those moments can be less than helpful in your every day life, particularly when clinging to a bad memory. After all, that is NOT what is happening RIGHT NOW… whenever right now is for you. The same goes with worries about the future.

I’ve heard stress is only a reaction to something we think might happen. It’s rarely a physical reaction to something that is literally happening that moment. Which is exactly why I’m trying so hard to live in the moment. I don’t want to live in the past, whether I’m enjoying a good memory or crying over an awful one. I don’t want to stress about what tomorrow or next week might bring. I want to be present. I want to be thankful for each moment as it comes. It sounds cheesy, but I have to constantly remind myself that tomorrow is not promised. It’s not for sure that I’ll even have to face {input awful outcome of such and such decision here}. I’m trying my hardest not to worry about these things.

So for now, I’ll keep sitting in front of the heater (it’s now much later… or earlier in the morning, rather…), probably writing in my little notebook. I’ll also be trying to quiet my mind.

Oh, and I’m listening to Paper Forest by Emmy the Great. This song has some amazing lines. I listen to it over and over… I’m obsessed. Give it a listen. See if you can get the connection between what I’m trying to say here and what she says in the song.

“It’s like these days I have to write down almost every thought I’ve held

So scared I am becoming of forgetting how it felt

And these fears they will unravel me one day

But still I am afraid…”

Emmy the Great, Paper Forest

<3


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Bringing Characters to Life: Habits, Quirks & Key Phrases

I absolutely adored the way Oskar Schnell, in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, said “Anyway” every time he felt uncomfortable or uncertain. I loved it so much I started saying it all the time.

My husband, Greg, would say, “Lou, you can’t just leave your underwear on the bathroom floor as if you disappeared into thin air.” (The fact that he calls me Lou is another story – you can read about it here.)

I would say, “Anyway.” And then possibly walk down the hallway, picking up the underwear later. Or if I spaced out and went on a tangent about whatever happened that day, I’d eventually realize what I was doing and say, “Anyway,” before changing the subject and coming back to Earth.

I loved this habit of Oskar’s. This catch phrase of his, if you will.

And there are moments when you realize that someone you’re reading about or writing about has something they often do. Perhaps it is why we can relate to what we read. Maybe it’s why we wish we were more like a certain character, or even relieved that we are nothing like them. Reading can be so personal and it’s often because of a character quirk. Is it a nervous habit? A word he or she often says? A way they glare or roll their eyes when spoken to? (think teenage years)

Think of quirks we have as humans. And don’t even think about saying that some people are quirk-less. That is impossible.

I have too many quirks to count. Call it OCD, call it spazzy, call it whatever you want, but I have plenty. (Ask Greg, he could tell you all of them!) Here are a FEW:

-I hate it when anything goes counter-close wise. I’m all about the clockwise.

-I don’t step on cracks with my left foot.

-I never, under ANY circumstance, open my eyes after turning out the light for bed. It’s way too scary. I know… I’m a wimp. (I made the huge mistake of watching Darkness Falls in high school. Now you know I’m even more of a wimp than you thought just seconds ago.)

In each manuscript I’ve written the main character always has some very interesting qualities. Some are subtle. Some are obvious. I wrote a girl named Virginia who can’t keep her hands still and runs five miles a day just to remain calm (Don’t you wish that was YOUR habit? Me, too…) I wrote a futuristic guy named Mason who never gets worked up about anything (believe me, this is a quirk) and a “tough” guy named Dane who is moody and keeps secrets… even ones that might not be necessary. Then there’s Ezra with the ultra potty mouth (F**K!) and cigarette addiction he claims is something he can control (F**K again). The list goes on, but someday you’ll just have to read all my stories in order to meet EVERYONE.

What is your quirk? Comment and tell me about it!! Be warned, however, that it may spark an idea for me to write a character with that same habit ;) I will change the name ;) ;)

FIRST SHORT STORY POSTED TODAY!!! {READ}

After reading take time to listen to the songs that inspired this story. #8 and #9, especially!!


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Birthdays, Harry Potter and Characters

Characters and Empty Nest Syndrome.

new writer, short stories, twins

my twin!

Let me first say happy birthday to myself, my twin sister, Meredith, and most importantly, Harry Potter. Yes, I share a birthday with Harry. On July 31st,1989 we were born and I think Harry started existing in J.K. Rowling’s head somewhere around 1991. It’s crazy to think that at one point in time H.P. didn’t even exist.

Yup. I know. It’s hard to even visualize, but there was a time.

Being that Harry is one of the most well known characters ever written, sharing a birthday with him is awesome. It’s one of my favorite facts about myself. That, and the fact that I also have a matching scar on my forehead (shaped like a crescent moon rather than lightning, but still!)

I turn 23 today. If you listen to music you might be aware of how profound this age really is. It’s mentioned too many times to count. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing has yet to be determined. I’ll try my best to make that decision by pointing out the honorable mentions of the age here:

Blink 182: What’s My Age Again?

“Nobody likes you when you’re twenty-three….”

+1 because this suggests that we’re still young enough to be annoying…at least that’s what I want it to mean

Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise (listened to this song a lot in my eighth grade ‘cussing and rap phase’ ay yi yi!)

“I’m 23 now, but will I live to see 24, the way things are going I don’t know…”

-1 because I am so embarrassed to have been such a wannabe white middle school girl listening to what I thought of as gangsta rap

Yellowcard: Twenty Three

“We’re almost twenty-three and you’re still mad at me…”

-1 just because this is sad

Tristan Prettyman: Simple As It Should Be

“I am almost 23, confused with all the lines in between…”

+1 because it’s so cute, my husband Greg and I did long distance for two years and it was one of the songs that helped me, and she makes 23 sound not so bad

Justin Townes Earle: Yuma

“So he was just 23 when he stepped out on that ledge…”

-1 because this is flat out depressing. (Although it’s one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite artists!!! check it out!!)

Blitzen Trapper: Furr

“On the day that I turned 23, I was curled up underneath a dogwood tree…”

+1 because why not? I don’t actually know this song well enough to judge, Meredith just told me about it!

So it comes out even.

I guess I can count how many songs talk about the age. SIX. If you know of more please let me know!

I’ll get out of my rant about my own age and focus again on Harry Potter and characters in general.

So.

Okay.

As fiction writers we do one main thing…we tell a story about a character (or many, many characters). They didn’t exist until we made them.

But are we writing a story about some new person we’ve created or a story about ourselves? I’d argue on both ends. I have written more than 60 different characters. Some are very minor, some are major. It hardly matters. I’ve mothered them, given them the means to exist, coaxed them off into their own world until they could function without me, and then wanted them to return home. I MADE YOU. WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I’ve felt like saying this before. There is a quote that has really stuck with me.

“The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.”   -Graham Greene
When a character becomes no longer “mine” and does this exact thing, it’s a very emotional process. They’re real now. They have lives of their own. It’s as if they’re alive and walking around inside my very own word document (because none of them have made it past manuscript, which is okay for now) and have slightly rebelled against me, but done nothing that can constitute a grounding. I’m not their parent. Some of them I don’t even like. In fact, isn’t that another part of writing?

hate some of the characters I’ve written.

With a passion. As I type their next action I think to myself “Gosh, they are just awful! How could they do that?” And as much as I hate a few of them, I especially love a handful. They are my pride and joy. I am proud of what they do and what they say. They learn from their mistakes. They are loyal. And even if they have some major flaws, I love them anyway.

new writer, short stories, characters

just to name a few…

And last but not least, I am devoted to them all because in a way, they all hold a part of me. Yes, even the ones I hate. Because often times they say something that someone once said to me. Or they hold the same name (yes… many characters are as real as the coffee mug sitting in front of me, whether they are kind, evil, funny, desperate, or …anything else…) as a real life person who I knew in, say, high school. Some of them are family members with names too cool to pass up. I can’t think of characters unless I have had some life experience that has lead to me writing the words that created them. And so many characters exist simply because of a song that I’ve heard.

One example:

Travis in I Looked Over Jordan {will share on blog soon, too!} exists solely because of three songs on a murder ballad CD called Seven Curses  by Jeffrey Foucault and Mark Erelli. Especially songs Ellis Unit One and Sonora’s Death Row.

I was obsessed (and still am) with this murder ballad CD and listened to it for three weeks straight. This story became obvious, as if it had already happened and it was simply my job to tell the story… hardly create it.

When I get to typing I feel as if I am a medium for something that is already there. Writers block is rare, I’m very lucky to say. As long as my fingers are moving the right words seem to come out.

I’m excited for anyone reading this to get to know characters I’ve written…one short story, manuscript excerpt and rambling idea at a time!